Did you know on average we drink 3 cups of tea a day in the UK?
That’s 165 million cups in total every day, and 60.2 billion cups a year! National Tea Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the little green leaf, but really every day is a tea day.
Tea has been our drink of choice in Britain ever since the 18th century, when it replaced ale and gin as the nation’s favourite beverage. However, tea has been enjoyed around the world for a lot longer than this, particularly in China where green tea is said to have originated over 5000 years ago. In fact the first tea to arrive in Europe was actually green tea from China; drinking black tea with milk is a much newer concept that became popular in the 19th century. Today we are once again seeing a surge of interest in tea as more people are discovering the huge variety of teas on offer – from green, to white tea, pu'er tea and rooibos tea, there’s a tea out there for everyone and every taste.
We estimate there are over 5000 types of teas sourced from 1500 varieties of tea bush and endless options of blending, flavouring and tea making.
Green and black teas are actually made from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis, of which there are thousands of sub-varieties. The best teas are typically grown at altitude. Once the leaves are picked, they are sorted and bruised and allowed to oxidise for varying amounts of time. To make black teas, the leaves are left to fully oxidise, darkening over time - the same process as an apple turning brown once you’ve taken a bite. Green teas and white teas however are barely oxidised at all and are dried soon after being picked, allowing them to retain their green colour and delicious light taste.
Tea making is a hugely refined and intuitive craft, like winemaking or craft beer making, and great taste depends on provenance, growing conditions and variety of tea bush, but also on the way the oxidation process is controlled, often using artisan techniques passed down the generations.
The ‘Tea break’ is a tradition that goes back around 200 years.
Tea is a huge part of British life, and more than just tasting great and having a long history, it is still the perfect drink for our time. In our increasingly busy lives, tea can give you the opportunity to come to together, whether for Afternoon Tea or just having a catch up with a friend. In fact 80% of office workers say they find out more about what's going on at work over a cup of tea than any other way. However, tea is special and a cup of tea is also a chance to take a moment for yourself; to catch your breath and enjoy the complex flavours that develop in the cup and allow the warm positive sense of wellbeing that is unique to tea to slow you down a little. A moment of calm – a true tea moment!
Listen out for our tea expert!
Georgia Ginsberg is a director of Dragonfly tea and the 5th generation to inherit the family passion for tea – her great grandfather Benjamin Ginsberg was the founder of rooibos tea and father Bruce Ginsberg started Dragonfly to bring to really varied good quality teas, including rooibos, chai tea and white tea, to a broader audience.
Georgia will be sharing her knowledge of tea across the radio on National Tea Day, so be sure to listen out and learn more about our favourite drink! Follow us on Twitter to find out more. #NationalTeaDay